Expert speaks about Iowa’s history through maps

by Ashley Smith, Editor-in-Chief

INDIANOLA, Iowa — The map expert from “Antiques Roadshow” spoke on Sept. 15 about the history of Iowa maps in conjunction with the Iowa History Center’s “Iowa and the Midwest: An Exhibition of Antique Maps” display in the Willis Gallery on the second floor of Kent Campus Center.

Christopher Lane, owner of Philadelphia Print Shop West and frequent appraiser on “Antiques Roadshow” gave the lecture titled “Before Garmin: Antique Cartography and Iowa Maps” to a crowd of about 100 people in Hubbell Hall.

Lane said he has always loved maps.

“I tend to find the world is divided into two groups of people: those who love maps and people who can’t understand why anyone would be interested in maps. And if you love maps, you tend to love any kind of maps,” Lane said.

The first time Lane realized he could touch original old maps is when he studied in England.

“There were a bunch of map and print shops all around England and walking in and being able to pick up a map from 1720 and actually handle it and look at it was very exciting to me,” Lane said.

A map dealer offered Lane a job when he bought his sister an antique map as a wedding present.

“I thought, ‘Well, that’d be fun for a year,’ and now 36 years later, I’m still selling old maps. I love finding maps, researching maps and lecturing about them, so that’s why it’s fun for me to come to something like this,” Lane said.

In the lecture, Lane highlighted the history of Iowa becoming a state through the antique maps from four private collections that are on display in Willis Gallery.

Lane said he likes tracing history through the antique maps, not because they are an accurate representation of what the land looked like, but because they show what people understood at the time.

Senior Emily Ortiz attended the lecture and said she thought it was interesting.

“(It) gave me a new perspective when thinking about maps. He mentioned that looking at an ancient map is like getting an opportunity to see how people back them saw their world,” Ortiz said.

“Iowa and the Midwest: An Exhibition of Antique Maps” will be displayed through Oct. 23.